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RF 18 getting water in bilge

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So my '03 RF 18 continues to get water in the bilge. I have read through many of the threads on here that point to the cheese grater and that the water gets into the boat through leaks at the through hulls there for the live well and bait well. 

I purchased the boat in January and the previous owner told me of the issue, having filled the hull and seeing it leak out of there (yikes) and said it is a simple fix of simply resealing. In May, I pulled the cheese grater off, inspected the whole area and put tons of flexseal around the spots water could leak in there at the through hulls. Water was also slowly dripping out of several of the six screw holes. Filled those with flexseal as well and replaced. The situation seemed to stop for a bit, yet returned a few trips later and the boat continues to have water in the bilge every single trip. I run the bilge multiple times a trip, for anywhere from 10-20 seconds pumping water out. 

Today I again removed the cheese grater and found water dripping out of the screw holes. I cannot imagine this is the source of the leak. In fact, I'm concerned water is getting into the fiberglass hull, as I counted about 20 plus tiny blisters on the bottom near the area. I checked the previous flex seal and it looks great. Doesn't appear that any water is getting in there. I resealed the screws and replaced the screws with bigger ones to ensure a tight fit. 

Where am I going wrong here? Where else can the water be entering the bilge? Trim tab screws? Am I looking in the wrong place to be resealing? 

My next ideas are to check the trim tab screws, and cut a wider hole into the bilge, already have the bigger cover to replace it with, so I can get my head in there with a flash light and do some more examining. Hard to see in there with the factory screw cap and small hole. 

Other questions... should I be concerned about the blisters on the bottom of the boat? Does anyone carry a spare bilge pump with them in the event that the one they have hooked up goes bad on the water and they have an issue like this? Have yet to change out a bilge pump on the water, doesn't appear too hard but then again it is a boat...

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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If you have not already try looking at the scupper tubes in the sides of the hull. The sealant that holds the scupper tubes draws up and can cause leaks into the hull. Pull out tubes and re-seal.

 

 

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Have you thoroughly checked the integrity of the hoses that are attached to these thru-hull fittings? Once the boat is in the water, even a hairline split in a hose or a loose clamp will allow a tremendous amount of water to leak into your bilge area.

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looks like a gnarly mess right there...FlexSeal? Like the info mercial stuff? Cmon man! Clean up all of the nasty filler etc that you have around those screw holes, then fill the holes with epoxy and start fresh. As for the thru hull fittings, I would do the same...pull them out, clean up all the gunk, and preferably install new and reseal correctly with 5200. I would bet that this boat has the same corregated tubing I had in my 01 2200v. Id get rid of it. I replaced my deck drains with marine sanitary hose and eliminated the PITA cracks etc in it. That tubing is brittle and hides failures.

If you are getting water in the hull, you need to first identify the source...it sounds like you did that and saw water coming out of the holes. If that's the case, you need to do what I suggest ASAP. Leaks will delaminate the glass around them and cause more issues down the road.

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have you checked the hose from the live bait well that exits the transom?  mine was broken and darn thing leaked into bilge all the time.  As always when you find it, will be the last thing you check. LOL

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8 hours ago, lurem said:

If you have not already try looking at the scupper tubes in the sides of the hull. The sealant that holds the scupper tubes draws up and can cause leaks into the hull. Pull out tubes and re-seal.

 

 

Thanks, yes I already resealed those. 

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8 hours ago, hawg said:

Have you thoroughly checked the integrity of the hoses that are attached to these thru-hull fittings? Once the boat is in the water, even a hairline split in a hose or a loose clamp will allow a tremendous amount of water to leak into your bilge area.

I'll check that next, thanks!

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6 hours ago, raymo said:

looks like a gnarly mess right there...FlexSeal? Like the info mercial stuff? Cmon man! Clean up all of the nasty filler etc that you have around those screw holes, then fill the holes with epoxy and start fresh. As for the thru hull fittings, I would do the same...pull them out, clean up all the gunk, and preferably install new and reseal correctly with 5200. I would bet that this boat has the same corregated tubing I had in my 01 2200v. Id get rid of it. I replaced my deck drains with marine sanitary hose and eliminated the PITA cracks etc in it. That tubing is brittle and hides failures.

If you are getting water in the hull, you need to first identify the source...it sounds like you did that and saw water coming out of the holes. If that's the case, you need to do what I suggest ASAP. Leaks will delaminate the glass around them and cause more issues down the road.

Thanks for the tips. Yup, it's not pretty but it definitely sealed any holes around those through hulls when I initially installed it. Yes, Flex Seal makes an adhesive that has the same consistency, look, feel and messiness as 5200, but it can be applied on a wet surface unlike 5200. Since I have to get the boat wet by sliding it halfway down the bunks, I have used the Flex Seal version due to it saying it can adhere to a wet surface. I realize 5200 has a good rep and will use it when I have the time but since I need to use a public ramp to get access to it, I can't spend all day sitting in the ramp parking lot. Hopefully I can figure out a way to jack the boat up off the trailer this winter to properly apply the epoxy and 5200 when I have more time to do it. 

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4 hours ago, johnd said:

have you checked the hose from the live bait well that exits the transom?  mine was broken and darn thing leaked into bilge all the time.  As always when you find it, will be the last thing you check. LOL

I did look at that previously and didn't notice anything wrong but will check it again. Ain't that the truth!

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40 minutes ago, Shallowminded6 said:

I had a good drip from my sea strainer and from my livewell pump housing(small crack). Both at different times. But caused similar issues. Could try checking those as well. 

Will do, thanks!

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As stated, that mess has to be cleaned up and start from scratch. As for having an extra pump and changing it out on the water. Yes if you have a seacock to close the system other wise no. Carry an extra pump with hose connected and clips to connect to battery so you have a complete system ready to go.

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I have the same issue with my 2004 RF 18. I too am in the process of troubleshooting. My first move was to remove all of the livewell/Washdown plumbing and cap the brass intake pipes. This helped quite a bit but still getting some water.  I have not yet removed the cheese grater but have seen water exiting from there. One of the screws on the plate is broken off. Did you have any trouble removing those screws?

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14 hours ago, highhook said:

I have the same issue with my 2004 RF 18. I too am in the process of troubleshooting. My first move was to remove all of the livewell/Washdown plumbing and cap the brass intake pipes. This helped quite a bit but still getting some water.  I have not yet removed the cheese grater but have seen water exiting from there. One of the screws on the plate is broken off. Did you have any trouble removing those screws?

I did not, they came right out with a screw driver. One of them, the hole was sufficiently bigger than the screw and the screw wouldn't even back out, it simply slid out. When I'm able to, will fill them back in with epoxy and retap. 

I plan on doing a thorough inspection and figure the whole issue out in two months when my guiding season is done. Until then I'm going to keep an eye on it and see if I can determine where the leak is. Would love to hear what you find is the cause.

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Look at the rub rail. Some boats will have it under water at times with 2 people in the back and a good spray up the side while running will get in 

 Use a good silicone to seal the cap and hull. Removing the rub rail to do this is the best way but just sealing under the rub rail can help.

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